Manly produced an impressive second half display to win 34-14 and record back to back victories in front of 9,029 fans at 1300 Smiles Stadium tonight.
In a truncated round of football, it was important for North Queensland to keep in touch with the chase for the top eight. Manly were looking for back to back victories for the first time since Round 13 and a spot in the top four.
Coming off a huge win against cellar dwellers Parramatta, Manly brought that attacking mindset to the contest tonight. In the 13th minute, David Williams and Jorge Taufua combined to send Matt Ballin in for the opening try.
North Queensland responded through returning fullback Matthew Bowen who sold the dummy and sliced through to bring the Cowboys level. Ethan Lowe added a penalty goal in the 24th minute to make it 8-6 to the home side.
Missing halfback Daly Cherry-Evans, Jamie Lyon stepped up to play-making duties but was the recipient of a magical pass from Ritchie Fa'aoso to hand the Sea Eagles the lead into halftime.
Cowboys continued the tit-for-tat nature of the contest right after the resumption. Michael Morgan going himself with a grubber and pouncing on the Brett Stewart error to plant it down.
14-12 would be the closest the Cowboys would get to the Sea Eagles as they went on a flurry of try-scoring starting with both wingers getting on the scoresheet. David Williams in the 47th minute from the right then Jorge Taufua in 55th minute on the right.
Manly added two further tries in Justin Horo who ran a simple line to steamroll past Bowen and Steve Matai who showed guile to evade defenders for his try. After a promising opening 45 minutes from the Cowboys, Manly showed their top four credentials in the 34-14 victory.
North Queensland Cowboys 14 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 34
Venue: Willows Sports Complex
Halftime Score: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 12-8
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Kieran Foran
2 points - Brett Stewart
1 point - Jamie Lyon
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS (14)
Tries: Matthew Bowen, Michael Morgan
Conversions: Ethan Lowe (2/2)
Penalty Goals: Ethan Lowe (1/1)
MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES (34)
Tries: Matt Ballin, Jamie Lyon, David Williams, Jorge Taufua, Justin Horo, Steve Matai
Conversions: Jamie Lyon (5/6)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Interchange: 6. Ray Thompson 15. Gavin Cooper 16. Tariq Sims 17. Scott Bolton
1. Brett Stewart 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Jamie Lyon 4. Steve Matai 5. David Williams 6. Kieran Foran 7. Peta Hiku 8. Brenton Lawrence 9. Matt Ballin 10. Brent Kite 16. James Hassan 12. Justin Horo 13. Glenn Stewart
Interchange: 14. Richie Fa'aoso 19. Nick Skinner 11. Jamie Buhrer 17. Ligi Sao
NQL: The big change for the home side is Matthew Bowen's return! The fullback will be in the #19 jersey replacing Clint Greenshields. There is a change in the halves too with Michael Morgan starting in place of Ray Thompson who is shunted to the bench with Rory Kostjasyn.
MAN: The changes for Manly come in the forward pack with James Hasson starting in place of Jamie Buhrer and George Rose ruled out with an ankle injury replaced by Nick Skinner on the bench.
Scored by Matt Ballin. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
Some excellent attacking football from the kick return from the Sea Eagles. Williams finds some space in the line, accelerates and offloads to Taufua who gets it to Foran then Ballin who just beats the cover defenders to cross the stripe. Lyon with the academic conversion.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 6-0
Scored by Matthew Bowen. Conversion attempt by Ethan Lowe successful.
Welcome back Matthew Bowen! From the set start, he drifted across, dummied and went through the gap for the try. Ethan Lowe takes the duties of kicking and slots his first conversion in the NRL.
Penalty goal attempt by Ethan Lowe successful.
Lowe sporting the headband early slams through his second goal of the night.
North Queensland Cowboys 8-6
Scored by Jamie Lyon. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
That came from nowhere somewhat, Richie Fa'aso poked his nose through and found Lyon who shrugged off the fullback and went in. Lyon pilots it through.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 12-8
Scored by Michael Morgan. Conversion attempt by Ethan Lowe successful.
GREEN LIGHTS.. TRY! Michael Morgan stabbed one through and chased himself watching Stewart fumble allowing him to pounce for the TRY. Lowe keeps his perfect record in tact.
North Queensland Cowboys 14-12
Scored by David Williams. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon unsuccessful.
Blink and you would have missed the Cowboys lead! Manly from the error spread it to the backline who go catch pass to send David Williams in. Jamie Lyon with his toughest test tonight hooks it away.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 16-14
Scored by Jorge Taufua. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
GREEN LIGHTS.. TRY! It has clicked for Manly in this second half with Brett Stewart once again integral in the movement to send Taufua in for the try. Jamie Lyon from the other sideline this time, converts.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 22-14
Scored by Justin Horo. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
Too big, too strong Justin Horo. It was Kieran Foran taking on the line and finding Horo who steamrolled past Bowen for the match winner. Lyon with a simple conversion, simply adds two more.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 28-14
Scored by Steve Matai. Conversion attempt by Jamie Lyon successful.
It is usually the brutality from Matai but this time it was the brilliance. Brett Stewart positioned him for the inside ball and a step took him away from Bowen and in for the TRY. Lyon adds another two more to the cause.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 34-14